Meet Your Clean Water Team
Hedrick Belin, President
As President, Hedrick provides strategic direction to Potomac Conservancy as it fights to improve the Potomac River and its surrounding lands through conservation and advocacy. Under his leadership, the Conservancy has launched several successful initiatives to promote river-friendly land use and to expand the base of volunteers actively engaged in the stewardship of our local green spaces.
He comes to the Conservancy with over 15 years of nonprofit fundraising and leadership experience, most recently as Vice President of the Metropolitan Group, a strategic communication and resource development consulting firm. Before joining the Metropolitan Group, Hedrick worked for several conservation groups, including the National Park Foundation, Izaak Walton League of America, and the League of Conservation Voters. In addition, Hedrick has experience mobilizing grassroots advocates, formulating public policy, partnering with public agencies and developing conservation programs.
Hedrick received his bachelor's degree in history from Yale University, and his master's in public administration from George Washington University. He lives with his wife and two children in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Katie Blackman, Senior Director of Community Conservation
Katie joined the Conservancy in April 2015. She directs Potomac Conservancy’s public engagement efforts, leading grassroots outreach activities and campaigns. Katie comes to Potomac Conservancy with a background in volunteer engagement. She’s managed volunteer programs for local animal welfare and environmental nonprofits. She is also the founder of the Capital MOVE (Managers Of Volunteers for the Environment), a group of professionals who work with outdoor volunteers in the DC metro region. Katie has a BA from UMBC in history and elementary education and a master’s degree from King’s College of London. Her thesis, “Conservation and community: The impacts of volunteer ecotourism from a local perspective,” was awarded the 2012 Best Thesis Award. Katie lives with her husband in Boyds, Maryland. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and swimming and is itching to get her canoe up to snuff and out on the river!
Melissa Diemand, Senior Director of Communications
Melissa joined the Conservancy in September 2010. She directs the Conservancy’s communications. Melissa is excited to share the story of Potomac Conservancy and our clean water successes through our website, online channels, print publications, and reports. She previously managed foundation and government giving at the Conservancy as the Director of Grants.
Melissa comes to the Conservancy with a background in political polling and project management, and has helped to elect individuals with progressive environmental values to state and federal offices. Melissa earned a BA in political science and a minor in international studies from the American University in Washington, DC. In her free time, she loves exploring the outdoors and finding new areas in the Potomac Basin to hike, bike, and paddle.
Olivia Guerra, Development Operations Manager
Olivia joined the Conservancy in March 2019. As the Development Operations Manager, she works closely with the Conservancy's individual donors, foundations, and government supporters; authors proposals; assists in event planning and management; and explores new partnership opportunities. Olivia previously worked in the private sector, mainly in the defense contracting space. She comes to the Conservancy with five years of experience in executive administration, project management, and business development.
Olivia grew up in Northern Nevada, where she fostered a love of all things outdoors. She spent her childhood hiking the Sierra Nevada mountains, swimming in Lake Tahoe and the Yuba River, camping in Death Valley, exploring abandoned silver and gold mines, and smelling the sweet aroma of Desert Sage. She thinks there’s nothing better! In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking in Great Falls, and exploring trails and meeting their critters with her son.
Mindy Kania, Development Associate
Mindy joined the development team to assist Potomac Conservancy as it grows its network of members. She previously worked at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center managing a program in Preventive Medicine that provided care for Service Members.
A Maryland native, former rower for Loyola University Maryland, with a childhood exploring creeks and trails, she is happy to be promoting river health on a local level. Together with her husband, she also looks forward to passing on a love for nature and conservation to her two children.
Willis Kliefoth, Communications Manager
Willis joined the Potomac Conservancy in April 2019. She manages the organization’s blog, newsletter, and social media output, and contributes to the overall communications strategy. Willis has previously worked in communications as part of the Footprint Program Team at the International Finance Corporation, where she worked to implement sustainability initiatives across the World Bank Group. She comes to the Conservancy with a non-profit background, having worked in Government Relations for the Ocean Conservancy and in Development for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Willis studied Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park, and focused in Marine and Coastal Studies.
Willis grew up in Montgomery County along the banks of the Potomac, where she learned to love all things aquatic (particularly wildlife). She is excited to share her lifelong knowledge and passion for the Potomac with the public. Willis currently lives in DC and remains an avid scuba diver, hiker, and amateur biologist.
Mary Vasse, Senior Director of Development
As Director of Development, Mary works closely with Potomac Conservancy’s impassioned individual donors, connecting them with the work of protecting and promoting the Potomac River. She is building an energized, philanthropic base of supporters throughout the Potomac region. Mary comes to Potomac Conservancy after four years with the Anacostia Watershed Society, where as director of development she oversaw fundraising and worked with individual and corporate supporters in this prominent tributary of the Potomac River. She has fifteen years of experience in environmental conservation, fundraising, and grant making on the East and West coasts. Previous roles included program director of the National Forest Foundation and Sustainable Northwest. Mary earned her bachelor’s degree from Hobart & Williams Smith Colleges and her master’s in regional/environmental planning at the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and two children.
Caitlin Wall, Senior Director of Policy
Caitlin joined the Conservancy in April 2016 as director of the Conservancy’s policy efforts in Maryland and the District of Columbia. She previously worked at Marstel-Day, LLC, leading policy efforts to develop compatible use partnerships between military installations and communities. Caitlin earned a BA from the College of William and Mary in public policy and environmental studies and an MA from Colorado State University in political science. She serves as a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a Senior Fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program, and enjoys hiking, camping, yoga, and triathlons.
Kyaira Ware, Community Conservation Manager
Kyaira joined Potomac Conservancy in October 2017. As the Community Conservation Associate Kyaira hosts local volunteer and recreation events focused on increasing the presence of minority communities. Kyaira graduated from Howard University in 2016 with a BS in biology. Following graduation, she worked as a science teacher in Chicago and also as a mentor for the Nature Conservancy’s LEAF program. In her free time, Kyaira enjoys singing, playing the piano, and learning about different cultures.
Emily Warner, Senior Director of Land Conservation
Emily oversees the Conservancy’s land protection and restoration programs. A member of our land protection team from March 2009 through July 2013, she happily re-joined the Conservancy in January 2016. She has also worked for The Nature Conservancy, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and Hampshire County Farmland Protection Board. Emily also has experience with high altitude environments, vegetation monitoring, plant identification, and editing/proofreading. She is attempting to be proficient in Spanish.
Emily holds a bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Allegheny College and a master’s in natural resources stewardship from Colorado State University (with an ecological restoration specialization). She’s a West Virginia native and loves mountains anywhere. When not conserving land and rivers, Emily spends her time enjoying them. She does much trail running but also enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking, and gardening.